I really enjoy riding and will ride in all sorts of weather from high heat (120 degrees is the hottest) on down to cold temps (3 degrees is the coldest commuting temp, 26 degrees is the coldest touring temps).
I hear from lots of folks who can’t seem to get a grip on riding in inclement weather though. They see me riding in snow, rain, and freezing temps and just aren’t able to grasp how I can do such a thing.
I’ll give you the secret: Preparation.
I like to ride and go touring all over the country. But I don’t want to find myself stuck somewhere simply because it’s raining or hot or whatever. So I commute in all kinds of temps. There’s an endurance factor as well as the testosterone factor (I’m a guy 🙂 ) but another factor is just being able to identify when I need to stop vs when I want to stop.
Rain is pretty easy. You can get rain suits from many places. Tour Master sells a nice set. Frog Togs. I have a Joe Rocket Alter Ego 3 jacket which has a zip out rain liner and waterproof pants that zip to the Alter Ego. It comes with a pants liner so you’re even warmer. The problem with it is you have to put your boots on after you put on the pants which is cumbersome. I also have an Aerostich (when I can fit into it). It has a Cortech liner so it’s water resistant. Since it’s a one piece suit, water pools in you lap and seeps in soaking your crotch. I typically use the Joe Rocket liner as an over-rain coat for the Aerostich when I’m out on tour. It keeps me dry and is a great windbreaker so I can stay warm. Add in that it’s fairly tiny when packed and it’s essential when out on tour. I also have rain covers for my gloves and the left thumb has a mini squeegee so I can simply wipe from right to left to clear my vision.
For cooler weather, I have a fog city liner which is stuck to the inside of my face shield. It provides a thin air barrier between me and the outside which prevents fog build up so I can see. It’s a delicate device and scratches easily so it’s only good for a season or two even if you’re careful. You must clean it with soapy water and not a shield cleaner like Plexus. Not because of the Plexus but the rag you use to wipe it off. It has fine particles that scratch the liner.
For cold weather, I’ve installed heated grips. They’re pretty easy to install. The only failing is that if you have a twistier throttle (where you have to turn it more to get power such as on a 250 or maybe a 600 cc bike), you’ll break the wire connection to the heating element and will need to replace it. Note: the left element has a more elements than the one that goes around the throttle. This is because the left one is directly on the clip-on (the bar) where the right one is placed on the throttle which is typically a plastic bit that doesn’t touch metal. So it doesn’t have to get as hot as the left one.
Another good item are the Gerbing heated gear. I have heated gloves and a jacket liner. The gloves plug into the jacket sleeves and the jacket plugs into a wire that’s connected to the battery or a fuse box if you’ve installed one as I have. You can also get a thermostat however I find that I can ride well enough to a certain point and then I just need heat. You may have different needs.
For the helmet area I have a scarf I use to keep my neck and chin warm. In temps approaching 15 degrees, the fog city liner doesn’t work as your condensation freezes on contact with the shield. So you either have to go with a Froggy face shield which doesn’t work well for me or just chase down a couple of straws and breathe out through them.
As it gets colder, don’t forget to keep an eye on the bike. The battery will drain easier so keep it on a trickle charger if you’re not going to use it for a few days or more. The tires will pretty much stay cold without lots of riding which make cornering a bit more hair raising if you take things too fast. And don’t forget to avoid the crosswalk strips. They are dangerous in the rain and cold even in the best conditions. You will slip and fall. One of the riders on one of the forums I’m on hit a corner too fast and slid sideways. His jacket was too large so the pad didn’t stay in place and he wore down the little side bone at his elbow to the point that he almost lost the use of it.
Be careful but be prepared. Riding in the rain can be fun.